Forget the passport, you’ll need an airbag and love of all things steep and deep for these epic cross-border backcountry adventures…
Chamonix (France) – La Fouly (Switzerland) – Courmayeur (Italy)
Not two but three countries in two days. You start with an impressive lift and skin ascent from Chamonix, over to the beautiful Swiss valley of Val Ferret and a cosy night in La Fouly, then over into Italy, skiing down towards Courmayeur for the Helbronner lift to the top of the Vallée Blanche to finish back in Chamonix with this classic descent.
Gressoney (Italy) – Zermatt (Switzerland) and back again
Lots of ways to do this, but the easiest is to hitch a heli-lift to the Lysjoch, the col right by Europe’s highest mountain refuge, the Margherita. Don’t stay there – you won’t get much sleep at 4554m – but descend the Grenz glacier, past the Monte Rosa hut and off the end of the glacier into Zermatt for a spot of lunch.
If you’ve skinned out of the Gressoney lift system, instead of taking the heli, you’ll be late, but the way back is plain sailing, with lifts over to the Cime Bianche pass and into the magical Cortoz valley to descend all the way to Champoluc and the Monterosa lift system.
Vent (Austria) – Val Senales (Italy)
Start from Vent, near Obergurgl, to climb the 3606m Similaun – the biggest peak around these parts. There’s a convenient high hut you can make in the day, before summiting and heading over into Italy. Keep your eyes peeled for leathery-looking skeletal remains (this is where they found Oetzi, the ice-man). But above all, don’t miss the Bella Vista hut or, if you’re feeling romantic, the nearby Customs House for a final overnight before skiing down into Val Senales.
Sud Tirol (Italy) – Grossglockner (Austria)
A full-on multi-day tour which you should definitely not choose as your first outing on skins. Known as the Austrian Haute Route, it properly starts in Italy’s Sud Tirol in the Ahrntal. Your ultimate objective is Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner, an impressive spiky-looking thing which, depending on your angle, doesn’t immediately suggest skiing. A great way to end a big tour.
Madrisa Rundtour – Gargellen (Austria) – Klosters (Switzerland)
Very light on the uphill but an excellent day trip, head from Gargellen to the impressive col, the St Antoenier Joch, by lift and then skins. There’s an exceptional ski down to St Antoenier and the bus/train for Klosters. From there it’s lifts and traversing with a final hike over the top via the Schlappinerjoch to descend the Valzifenz valley back to Gargellen and dinner at the exceptional Hotel Heimspitze.